10 Things Politicians Can Learn from Actors
Most international relations majors tend to forgo sleep and sanity to fight it out for prestigious research work, internships at think tanks and NGOs, and leadership in assorted international relations clubs. Life hack: just don't!
Every serious IR major knows that, if you want to learn how to manage crises, smile when talking to someone you dislike, and think on your feet, you should join a student theater group. Here are a few other similarities between the two seemingly disparate disciplines:
1. They're both susceptible to rogue actors.
The above sentence could be used to describe a difficult leader of a foreign country or an actor who refuses to memorize lines. Either way.
2. Neither can exist without a never-ending stream of meetings.
The key to both is communication. Or at least the appearance of communication.
3. No one sleeps.
The world's greatest treaties and college productions were produced on lots of caffeine and little shut-eye.
4. Fluency in another language is crucial.
Source-fours, gaffing, masking, cue writing, dry tech, wet tech, ASMs, dimmers, grids, Leprecon, blocking, QLab, and set dressing. And I could go on.
5. No one has enough money ... ever.
Just one of the many ways in which members of student theaters and international organizations come together: both are tragically under-funded.
6. Alliances matter.
Remember: no one ever got hired on their own, be they a set designer or a CIA station chief.
7. 'Normal' people think they can do your job better than you ... but they can't.
Stage-managing a 12-person show and negotiating with Congress and foreign nations to pass trade deals may both seem easy to the untrained observer. Both are pretty difficult.
8. Every day is a crisis.
Be it nuclear proliferation in Iran or part of your set still not showing up with two days left until opening, there’s always something new to throw a wrench in the proverbial works.
9. It's all about trade-offs.
Diplomats rarely get everything they want in an international agreement, just as theater dorks rarely manage to excel at theater, schoolwork, sleeping, and eating at the same time.
10. Despite everything, it's always worth it.
Because an audience of many now engages with the world in a different way as a result of the negotiation, compromise, and collaboration of a dedicated few.